Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Sound waves guide particles – potential applications include tissue engineering and drug delivery

30 October 2021

Wall of Sound

Our bodies use vessels, pumps and valves to push chemicals from where they’re made to where they’re needed – everything from blood cells to nutrients and waste are commuting inside us right now. Scientists mimic this outside the body, using microfluidic devices to test tiny machines to guide the flow of drugs around tissues. But what if we could push our particles without touching them? Here, scientists create ‘walls’ to guide the flow – walls made from sound. To use their ‘shadow waveguide’, they create a shaped pattern of sound waves (in this case, a curve) near a chamber containing the particles. Some of the energy leaks across into the chamber – a sort of sound ‘shadow’ of the curve which influences the particles without contact. This new form of acoustic tweezers may one day help tissue engineers to trap and manipulate cells or float drug molecules to exactly the right place – sounds good.

Written by John Ankers

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